1st December 1943

Got up very early – 6.30.  Felt a little better, but lungs very full of phlem.  Bright clear starlight, a little mist, and hard white frost.  The little cat came running across the frozen grass, mewing for its breakfast.

Heart painful, and took an hour to get in, but got a tow up Gunhill behind a lorry.  Trouble all day about Womens Land Army timesheets.  The illiteracy of these girls is appalling.  A good many of them are not more than 4 years out of school, yet they cannot spell the simplest words, in some cases not even their own names.  Captain Folkard seems unwilling to recognise this tremendous illiteracy.

This evening went to Rallings at 5.30 to see a Miss Payne as a prospective housekeeper.  Stayed to high tea at Rallings.  It is just a month today that Mother was taken ill, and just a month since the raid on Ipswich.  There was a thin mist, and a crescent moon, a good night for raiding.  However, we all had supper, and I finally left at half past 7.  Near Langham Oak I was overtaken by an enormous convoy of heavy guns, crawling along very slowly, showing enormous headlights and sidelights.  I could not get away from it until we got through Stratford, and I turned into Higham Lane.  All the time signal searchlights were flashing all around, and I was in a sweat in case enemy planes made an attack on the convoy while I was in the middle of it.  By this time the stars had vanished and there was quite a thick fog.  Higham Church clock struck 8 as I went by, and a plane came over, low in the mist.  A minute later there was heavy gunfire to the SE and several planes, about 6 I should think, came roaring through the clouds.  I switched off my cycle lamp and ran into a field near the cottage where there were corn stacks, and lay down between two of them.  Every moment I expected to hear the whistle of bombs, especially as the great searchlight just over at Raydon obligingly kept alight to attract enemy attention.  However, I was lucky again, and the noise of the planes died away to the W.

The Raydon light went out, and I had a lot of trouble to find where I had left my cycle.  Hurried to the cottage, and found the Home Service radio faint, but other wavelengths normal.  Went out after a while, and found rain beginning, and suddenly heard, faint and far, the Ipswich sirens giving an alarm.  Almost at once Manningtree sounded all clear, and no more planes came.  After 4 and a half years of war it is still impossible to give the alarm signals properly.

Lit a fire, and sat reading until 11.  Had bread and milk and went to bed.  Feel ill, but in some way oddly cheerful.  Found a final demand for the Conran’s from Electricity Company threatening to cut off light.  Sent on at once, but expect light to fail at any moment.

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